The Black Room (1935 film)
|The Black Room|
Poster for the film
|Directed by||Roy William Neill|
|Produced by||Robert North|
|Written by||Henry Myers
|Music by||R.H Bassett
|Cinematography||Allen G. Siegler|
|Edited by||Richard Cahoon|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||70 minutes|
The Black Room is a 1935 mystery-horror film, directed by Roy William Neill. The movie stars Boris Karloff in a dual role as twin brothers. The film also features Marian Marsh and Robert (Tex) Allen. The film was released in Great Britain as The Black Room Mystery.
In a Tyrolean castle in the late 18th century, twin sons, Gregor and Anton, are born to the de Berghmann baronial family. The baron is concerned: there is an old prophecy in the family states that the younger brother shall kill the elder in the Black Room of the castle.
Some years later in 1834, it is revealed that the Baron Gregor (Boris Karloff) has become a depraved ruler who murders the wives of local peasants. His brother, Anton (also played by Karloff), who cannot use his right arm and has spent much of his life traveling Europe, returns to the castle around the time of the murder, but refuses to believe the rumors he hears about Gregor. When the woman Mashka (Katherine DeMille) disappears after being seen with Gregor, the locals form a mob and enter the castle, confronting the baron. Gregor agrees to abdicate, and give power to his brother, who has become popular.
Gregor knows that Anton will likely marry Thea (Marian Marsh), niece of family advisor Colonel Hassell (Thurston Hall). He lures his unsuspecting brother to the Black Room, kills him, and throws him into the pit where the dead bodies of Gregor's other victims are kept. Gregor now assumes Anton's identity, and prepares to wed Thea, whose lover, Lieutenant Albert Lussan (Robert Allen), angrily objects. When Colonel Hassell discovers the deception, Gregor kills him. The blame for the murder is placed on Lieutenant Lussan, who is found guilty and sentenced to death.
Only Anton's mastiff recognizes that the baron is not his master, and the dog pursues Gregor when he travels to town for his wedding. Meanwhile, Lussan escapes and meets secretly with Thea, who urges him to flee. He refuses, however, and watches as the man supposed to be Anton (but in fact Gregor) fends off the dog with his right arm. The townspeople gathered to observe the celebration understand what has happened, and form a mob in a matter of seconds. The dog, followed by the mob, pursues Gregor to the castle. When Gregor hides in the Black Room, trapped by the dog and by a mob which is attempting to batter its way in, he falls into the burial pit and onto the knife still held in his murdered brother's hand. Thus, the prophecy is fulfilled, and the film ends.
Behind the scenes
The title refers to the oubliette where Gregor hides the bodies of his victims.
- Boris Karloff – Baron Gregor de Berghmann / Anton de Berghmann
- Marian Marsh – Thea Hassel
- Robert Allen – Lt. Albert Lussan
- Thurston Hall – Col. Paul Hassel
- John Buckler – Buran, the gypsy
- Torben Meyer – Peter, the majordomo
- Katherine DeMille – Mashka
- Henry Kolker – Baron de Berghman
- Colin Tapley – Paul Hassel as a young lieutenant
- Edward Van Sloan – Doctor
- Egon Brecher – Lead Villager (dark leather hat)
- Helena Grant – Anna, the housekeeper
- Marion Lessing – Maria, the chambermaid
- Robert Middlemass – The Prosecutor
- Stephen Jacobs, Boris Karloff: More Than a Monster, Tomohawk Press 2011 p 182